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How To Help Someone With BPD

Watching someone dear to you struggling with borderline personality disorder (BPD) can be difficult, whether they’re a family member, relative, or friend. 

This complex mental health disorder causes emotional instability, impulsive behavior, self-criticism, and other negative symptoms that can strain intrapersonal relationships.

Luckily, there are certain things you can do to offer your help. Those suffering from BPD can improve mentally and physically with the right treatment and support. However, keep in mind that BPD manifests differently in different people. 

In addition, people who are early in their recovery vs. others who are years into their recovery will need different types and levels of support.

This post covers what BPD is and ways you can help someone with BPD.

Graphic stating ways to help someone with BPD

Key Takeaways

Learning how to deal with your loved one’s BPD will help you build a better bond while helping them heal. Together, you can carve a path to healing and build a prosperous future beyond your loved one’s personality disorder. Here is how you can help.

  • Educate yourself about every aspect of borderline personality disorder (BPD).
  • Validate their feelings and listen to them carefully.
  • Encourage them to take responsibility for their actions and establish clear boundaries.
  • Encourage them to get professional help.
  • Do not forget about yourself; take care of your needs and feelings as well.

If you are looking for a professional BPD treatment program for your loved one, Indiana Center for Recovery has got you covered. Contact us today at (844) 650-0064!

Understanding BPD

Borderline personality disorder (BPD), a mental health condition, causes people to have an intense fear of abandonment, have a poor self-image, make impulsive and risky choices, engage in self-harming activities, and experience intense emotions and mood swings.

Loving someone with BPD takes a lot of patience and strength. You might be hurt in a variety of situations. For example, your loved one may consistently make false allegations, be continuously furious at you, or blame you even when you are not at fault.

Without understanding and support, this can be an exhausting and painful journey. Sometimes, it becomes difficult to see or remember that their behavior is not against you but rather derives from their personal struggles.

However, if your loved one is struggling with BPD, you can help them overcome this mental illness and improve their quality of life, even if they are in denial and do not want to go to rehab.

How To Help

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) might appear to be an all-consuming mental illness that weaves itself into feelings, behaviors, and relationships. This mental condition might appear to be an impassable barrier between you and the person you love.

Dealing with BPD requires the skills for curbing crises and fostering freedom in your loved one. With the right tools and treatment, it is possible to help your loved one recover from BPD.

The following steps can help you deal with someone with BPD and strengthen your relationship with them while providing both of you with the care and support you need to heal.

Learn All You Can

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) can be a confusing diagnosis as there are many misconceptions regarding what individuals with BPD feel. 

Learning more about the condition, its symptoms, and its prognosis will help you have a clear image of what your loved one is experiencing.

You can learn more about the condition from reliable sources such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH), or you contact mental health professionals at Indiana Center for Recovery directly for a more personal conversation.

Demystifying BPD can help you cut through the confusion, better understand your loved one’s struggle, and feel better prepared to accompany them on their recovery journey.

Validate Their Feelings

Individuals suffering from BPD often experience extreme emotional reactions, making it difficult for others to relate to them. If you are not prepared for these intense behaviors, it can be tempting to walk away from the situation.

However, if you really want your loved one to overcome this mental disorder, it’s very important to validate their feelings, even if you don’t understand where they’re coming from.

Often, simply mirroring back what they are saying can prove extremely effective. For example, you can say, “I see you’re in pain. It must be awful to feel that way,” rather than “There’s no reason for you to feel that way.”

As your loved one expresses their feelings, be patient and listen with understanding, compassion, and respect. Resist the temptation to indulge in an argument with them or disregard their feelings since both may be extremely hurtful for them.

Encourage Responsibility

Helping someone with BPD involves encouraging them to take responsibility for what they think, say, and do.

It’s normal to want to help a loved one, but constantly taking care of everything for them is counterproductive. Encouraging a loved one to be accountable for their actions is the best thing you can do to help them.

Encouraging them to be accountable does not imply that they should be completely abandoned. Rather, it simply means that you will no longer attempt to save them from the outcomes of their own decisions and actions.

Establish Clear Boundaries

Establishing and enforcing healthy boundaries is one of the most effective ways to assist someone with BPD in regaining control of their behavior.

Setting limits in your relationship can give you more options for how to behave when confronted with undesirable and hostile behavior, replacing the confusion and instability of your current situation.

When both sides respect the boundaries, you will ultimately build a sense of trust and respect for one another, which are important components of any lasting relationship.

Though, setting boundaries is not a quick fix for a relationship. In fact, at first, things may grow worse before they get better. The individual suffering from BPD fears rejection and is sensitive to a perceived insult. 

This implies that if you’ve never established limits before, your loved one is likely to respond in a negative way when you do.

If you give in to your loved one’s anger or abuse, you only reinforce their negative behavior. However, sticking to your decisions can empower you, benefit your loved one, and eventually improve your relationship.

Seek Professional Help

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a highly treatable mental illness, although people with BPD often avoid going to treatment or deny that they have a problem. 

Even if this is the case with a loved one, you can still offer support, work on improving communication, and establish boundaries while encouraging them to get professional help.

While medication options are limited, the supervision of mental health care professionals, psychiatrists, and therapists can make a huge impact on the recovery journey of your loved one.

Psychological therapies for BPD, such as mentalization-based therapy (MBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and schema-focused therapy, can assist your loved one in working through relationship and trust issues and learning new coping skills.

In talk therapy, they can learn how to calm the storm of emotions and self-soothe in healthy, positive ways.

Don’t Ignore the Threats of Self-Harm

Suicidal threats and gestures are common among those suffering from BPD. Some people with BPD will make several suicidal threats, which can make this kind of behavior become desensitizing to their family and friends.

Even if your loved one has previously made suicidal threats without actually attempting suicide, be aware that people with BPD are at a very high risk of suicide.

According to research, 75% of those with BPD will make a suicide attempt at least once in their lifetime. Studies have also reported that 3-10% of individuals with BPD commit suicide. As a result, even if you don’t believe your loved one will attempt suicide, never dismiss the threat.

Learn the warning signs that your loved one is considering attempting suicide, and call 911 if you suspect they will harm themselves. Allow professionals to decide whether there is a severe risk of harm.

Find Support For Yourself

Learning to cope with BPD is difficult for both you and your loved one. Many family members of people suffering from BPD experience anxiety, isolation, fear, and shame as they struggle to navigate the disease. 

Therefore, it is essential that you do not overlook your own feelings and needs in your efforts to help your loved one.

Remember to take care of yourself by nourishing your mind, body, and spirit. By attending individual therapy sessions and connecting with support groups, you can get the support and help you need to cope.

The family programs at Indiana Center for Recovery are a source of support and are specifically designed for people like you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you calm someone with BPD?

The problem for those suffering from BPD is that the condition distorts both the messages they hear and the ones they try to express.

One of the best ways to assist someone with BPD in calming down is to listen to them and acknowledge their feelings. 

You can help defuse attacks and rages and establish a stronger, healthier relationship by appreciating how a borderline person hears you and adjusting how you communicate with them.

What are some coping skills for BPD?

If you have BPD, your emotions can be overwhelming. Coping skills can help in the reduction of emotion dysregulation and other symptoms of BPD.

Following are some useful coping skills for BPD.

  • Talk to someone.
  • Plan for difficult times.
  • Keep a mood diary.
  • Engage in activity.
  • Look after your physical health.
  • Focus on what matters to you.
  • Try peer support.
  • Find specialist support.

What do you say to someone who is struggling with BPD?

Supporting someone with BPD may be distressing and difficult at times. That’s why you need to be watchful about what you are saying to them. Your actions and words have the ability to both make and break them.

  • Validate their pain and experience. Tell them you understand how real the experience is for them.
  • Tell them you really want to understand and know what they’re feeling and why.
  • Give a person hope for recovery by reassuring them that people suffering from BPD can and do recover.
  • Tell the person exactly what you are not willing to tolerate (e.g., threats, abusive language, or any violence).

How do you look after and support someone with BPD?

If someone dear to you has BPD, you may find it difficult to understand their behaviors and feelings or to know how to help. 

However, there are several positive things you can do to help and support them:

  • Learn more about BPD.
  • Learn their triggers.
  • Don’t judge.
  • Be calm and consistent.
  • Be patient.
  • Help them seek treatment and support.
  • Remind them of their positive traits.
  • Set clear boundaries.
  • Take care of yourself.

Mental Health is Important at Indiana Center for Recovery

Loving someone who is suffering from BPD can be a roller-coaster ride. You can do a lot of things to help them, but you can’t take it upon yourself to “fix” them completely. Getting them professional treatment from Indiana Center for Recovery is the best course of action.

At Indiana Center for Recovery, we are specialized in treating mental and emotional issues, such as bipolar disorder. We provide effective and compassionate care in a safe and comfortable residential setting, allowing our patients to focus solely on their BPD treatment and recovery without the distractions of external stressors.

Our medical professionals offer a range of effective treatment services, including detox, residential treatment, outpatient treatment, dual diagnosis, and evidence-based therapies (such as CBT and EMDR).

Contact our healthcare professionals at (844) 650-0064 to learn more about our rehab center and treatment services.